David Bruce Smith Publications is offering a Centennial Plus 1 Edition of the limited edition, fine press book TENNESSEE in honor of the 101st birthday of Tennessee Williams — March 26, 2012. The book contains individual volumes of 3 Tennessee Williams’s plays, plus 6 art prints of female characters.
David Bruce Smith, the publisher of the collection, remembers his introduction to the playwright and recalls the highlights of creating this masterpiece.
FIR: When did you first become interested in the plays of Tennessee Williams?
David Bruce Smith: I became intrigued and interested in Williams while I was in high school. It was then that I read “A Streetcar Named Desire.” I think I read it three times over the coming years.
FIR: What was the first Tennessee Williams play you ever saw?
Smith: The first play was much later–about 2005; it was a production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” I remember being more impressed by the movie, which oddly enough, I saw on cable in China–in 1987.
FIR: What do you recall most about the performance?
Smith: It was not as riveting or as fine as the movie. I don’t think you can do better than the quartet of Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Burl Ives, and Judith Anderson.
FIR: When did you first come up with the concept of creating a limited edition, fine-press collection of Tennessee Williams’ plays, with accompanying artwork?
Smith: Seven and a half years ago, I learned–through a friend–that Michael Kahn, artistic director of the Washington Shakespeare Theatre, was planning a Williams’s revival. Because of that connection, I was able to get a meeting with Kahn, and there, I presented him with the idea of creating “TENNESSEE.” He immediately supported the idea. He was wonderful through the entire process, and he contributed the preface to the book. Michael had an usual perspective because he had been a friend of Williams.
FIR: How did you select the 3 plays that are included in the collection, “These Are the Stairs You Got to Watch,” “The Glass Menagerie” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”?
Smith: Michael got us (my partners and me) the never-before-published “These are the Stairs You’ve Got to Watch.” We selected the other two based on what we liked, and what we could get permission to use.
FIR: The collection also contains 6 prints by the artist Clarice Smith entitled “Tennessee’s Women”. How did the artist create these prints?
Smith: The prints were hand drawn with pencil–initially, and then colored to accentuate the “personalities” of each woman.
FIR: What was your most memorable experience in the creation of this limited-edition book?
Smith: Oh, my favorite part was the repeated trips to Florence to work with the printer. Everything was produced the old fashioned way: on a World War ll vintage press, where each color separation was done individually. The paper is Fabriano Rusticus, and the printing was letter press; that is, the text is engraved. For this kind of book, this level of craftsmanship was appropriate, and contemporary methods would not have duplicated prints of this quality.
For the month of March David Bruce Smith Publications is offering TENNESSEE at a 10% discount plus $101 in honor of the playwright. Regularly $3,000, the book is now $2,599 for a limited time.
TENNESSEE is for sale by these fine booksellers.
Chestertown Old Book Co., Chestertown, MD
Books Tell You Why, Mt. Pleasant, SC
Kelmscott Bookshop, Baltimore, MD
You may also schedule an appointment to view the book in Washington, DC or New York City.